Sweetgreen is a new fast food chain gaining momentum, and it is so vital to understand your brand is more than just the food you sell,. Sweetgreen opened its first location in 2007 when three recent grads from Georgetown University decided they wanted to create a healthy, affordable, and delicious fast food establishment. Eight years later and they have 31 locations in New York, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.
But Sweetgreen isn’t just about being able to get great tasting healthy food on the go. Their brand is about a sweet experience for their customers. Servers at the restaurant walk with the customers going down the line building salads, rice bowls, grain (usually quinoa) bowls, and soups. While making your food the way you want, the servers have a secondary mission, to make your day better. The restaurants are furnished with repurposed items. The food they serve is mainly sustainable and fresh from local sources whenever possible. Meals there cost about $10, so in the same range as places like Chipotle or Baja Fresh.
At Sweetgreen, the uniform includes shirts that say “passion and purpose.” The company supports several causes, including outreach opportunities with inner city youth giving them a chance to learn about and sample healthy food choices. They sponsor a music festival as well. And if you’ve eaten there, you may very well have posted pictures of your meal on Instagram. It is a regular occurrence from many of their 61,000 followers. Sure they don’t have nearly as many followers as Chipotle with their 200K followers, but when you compare the 31 locations of Sweetgreen with the 1700 locations of Chipotle, who would you say is running behind?
Those three college grads have come a fair distance in a short time and at every turn they have chosen new ways to support the brand they believe in while improving the customer experience. They love music and know their target market does to … having a music festival made sense. Healthy food that tastes as good or better than other fast food options, that too spoke to them and their customers. These boys prove that business, beliefs and ethics in a solid mix can create PR platinum.
The company lives by its mission and brand. In the process, they are getting a lot of free PR from satisfied customers who return often for the healthy sustainable food and the cheerful boost they receive from the employees there. You can’t buy PR that good, you have to earn it.
5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian is a life long New Yorker, founder of NY based PR company 5W and author of best selling Public Relations book “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations.”